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Houston Home Sale Surge Continues in July: No End in Sight to the Run

By Ralph Bivins

Houston home sales increased 27 percent in July, the 14th month in a row that sales have been up, according to the Houston Association of Realtors.

The momentum in the market, driven by solid job growth, is showing no signs of tapering off later in 2012. The inventory of homes for sale is dropping sharply.

The Houston Association of Realtors reported the area has a 5.3 months supply of homes for sale. It’s the smallest inventory since 2007. A year ago, Houston had 50,022 homes for sale, but that number declined 16 percent to 41,860 listings in July of 2012.

“Inventories are shrinking rapidly. If more properties don’t come on the market soon, the torrid pace of sales is unlikely to continue through the end of the year,” said Evert Crawford, director of the University of Houston’s Institute for Regional Forecasting.

The association’s statistics showed pending sales for August, were up 11 percent, indicating a strong finish to the summer is assured.

“The Houston real estate market is hot right now and doing extremely well. The inventory is going down and prices are going up,” said Houston Realtor Danny Frank of Turbo Realty of Texas. “People are moving to Houston and we are creating a lot of new jobs.”

The Houston economy added 84,000 jobs over the last 12 months, demonstrating Houston remains one of the strongest – if not the strongest, economies in the nation.

“Sales volume isn’t achieving the record levels we experienced in 2006, before the recession, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a market performing as well as Houston, even as the national housing recovery continues,” said Wayne Stroman, chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors.

Home sales are excellent in The Woodlands, where Exxon Mobil is constructing a new corporate campus where 10,000 people will work in some 3 million square feet of new office space.  Some 2,000 employees from the Mobil remnant in Fairfax, Va. will be relocating to Houston.

Already, several high-level Exxon Mobil executives are believed to have purchased houses in the exclusive Carlton Woods section of The Woodlands, where some homes are priced at over $1 million.  So far, however, Exxon Mobil move has not made a significant impact yet on the realty market, said Betty Lips of Re/Max – The Woodlands & Spring.

Sellers in The Woodlands have already upped their sales-price expectations, however, anticipating a surge in the market, Lips said.

The average price of a single-family home in Houston rose 3.7 percent from last July to $231,484, the highest level for a July in Houston and the third highest price of all time, the Realtors Association said. The median price – indicating half the homes sold for more and half for less – was $170,000 in July, up 6.3 percent from last year.

Ralph Bivins, founding editor of  www.RealtyNewsReport.com, is a past president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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